Thousands of U.S. and Afghan troops have launched a major combat offensive in the Kandahar region of Afghanistan. Officials say this mission marks a pivotal phase in the nine-year war against the Taliban.
The operation codenamed 'Dragon Strike,' focuses on pushing the Taliban out of an area they have controlled throughout their existence.
"We're about to make history," Captain Lorne Greer of the 101st U.S. Army Airborne said. "This is the big surge. We're going to go out there and fight with valor, and tremendous bravery."
The operation began in the early morning hours Monday as more than 8,000 coalition troops, launched three simultaneous attacks along a river valley near Kandahar.
Heavy fighting is continuing in Kandahar, Afghanistan, as U.S. and Afghan troops move forward with a combat offensive in the birth place of the Taliban. Click play to watch Charlene Israel's report. Also, CBN News Military Reporter Chuck Holton is in Afghanistan with the troops. Click here for his comments on the latest developments there.
The area is known as the Green Zone. For years, the Taliban have used it as their own personal highway for moving troops, weapons, and for smuggling drugs. It is a Taliban stronghold that has never been entered by coalition forces.
The joint military push with Afghan forces is intended to rid the area of Taliban insurgents and interrupt their ability to move freely and stage attacks.
Combat engineers used plastic explosives to destroy bomb-making facilities and clear improvised explosive devices for advancing troops.
One U.S. soldier found a bomb the hard way. He had stepped on it, but a broken wire prevented an explosion that would have killed him.
"I figure I got really lucky and didn't step on it square," said U.S. Army Lt. Evan Peck. "I stepped on the corner of it."
Since the offensive began, coalition troops have not encountered any Taliban militants -- knowing the offensive was coming, they fled the area.
Officials said winning over Kandahar is considered crucial to President Barack Obama's efforts to shift the balance of power in Afghanistan after militants staged a comeback in recent years.